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Sat, 3 Sep 2005, 11:57 AM

AMS-TLR Cup Championship Scenarios
Courtesy of Duke Ritenhouse

CLERMONT, Ind. -- Thanks in large part to a four-event winning streak in the first half of the season, Mike Ashley and the Torco Race Fuels Pro Mod team are closing in on a second straight AMS/TLR Cup points championship.

Ashley can clinch the Cup this weekend in Indianapolis, depending on both his performance and that of the only three drivers (Joshua Hernandez, Jay Payne, and Troy Critchley) who have not already been mathematically eliminated from the possibility of winning the Cup title. Entering the Mac Tools U.S. Nationals, Ashley has 3,917 points; Hernandez, in second place, has 2,941. A driver can earn a maximum of 516 points at a Pro Mod Challenge event (qualifying No. 1 and winning the event), although up to 200 bonus points are available for record-setting runs. However, the three remaining sites of AMS/ TLR events - Indianapolis, Dallas, and Las Vegas - have historically not been among the quicker or faster tracks on the Pro Mod Challenge circuit.

Using a 516-point scale, Ashley can clinch the title by leaving Indianapolis with at least a 1,033-point lead over the second-place driver (a maximum of 1,032 points would be available in the final two events). Entering the U.S. Nationals, Ashley leads Hernandez, the current second-place driver, by 976 points, so Hernandez will need to reach the same round of eliminations as Ashley to keep his hopes of a championship alive. If, for example, Ashley were to reach the semifinals and Hernandez the quarterfinals, the resulting difference in points would give Ashley the 1,033-point gap he needs to clinch his second straight championship.

Technically, 716 points are available to any driver at a Pro Mod Challenge event (winning, qualifying No. 1, and setting both ends of the AMS/TLR performance records). The current standards of 6.030 seconds and 236.92 mph, though, are not likely to be re-set in any of the three remaining events. Ranking all 14 Pro Mod Challenge sites by their current track records shows that Indianapolis is eighth-best in e.t. and ninth in speed, Dallas is 12th and eighth, and Las Vegas is 13th and sixth.

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